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Title: Essays on Accountability and Representation
Authors: Pomirchy, Michael
Advisors: Canes-Wrone, Brandice
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: accountability
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In this dissertation, I examine accountability mechanisms in elections and how they affect legislative behavior. First, I construct a theory of intra-party factions in which legislators in a continuum of districts choose to join a faction and cast a roll-call vote, before going up for reelection. This theory shows that factions can have positive welfare effects for voters, in that they signal incumbents' ideological alignment and empower voters to throw dissonant types out of office. In some cases, factions can also encourage more congruent legislative behavior too. Second, I measure the electoral consequences of faction membership by analyzing original survey data from the 2020 CCES. In a private module of 1,000 respondents, I gauge constituent perceptions of their representative's faction membership and relate these perceptions to electoral outcomes like vote choice and incumbent approval. In the context of the 2020 general election, I find that incumbents garner higher reelection rates and approval if they are affiliated with a faction that is ideologically congruent with their constituents. Moreover, these electoral rewards are larger among Republican incumbents and for incumbents affiliated with factions situated closer to the median of the party. Finally, I consider the impact of electoral incentives on legislative behavior in state legislatures. Using a natural experiment in four state legislatures -- Arkansas, Illinois, Florida, and Texas -- where term length was randomly assigned, I compare the responsiveness to constituency opinion of those randomly assigned a two-year term to those assigned a four-year term on different issue areas, like the economy, environment, and crime. I find no evidence for an electoral proximity effect. In addition, in the Illinois State Senate, I see similar results when examining the effect of term length on several individual roll-call votes, including the legalization of medical marijuana and gay marriage.
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Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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